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Linen Willow Tank Dress

This simple summer dress has become my new favourite thing to wear ... although it's not what I originally set out to make.

I initially bought a couple of metres of this milled linen on sale at the Fabric Store with the intention of making a Grainline Studio Willow Tank and a matching midi-skirt, but after bringing the fabric home and pre-washing it I had regrets over the colour. The linen itself is lovely and I usually love grey, but for some reason this just reminded me too much of a school uniform. But seeing as how I'd already bought the pattern and the fabric, I decided to go ahead and sew the tank anyway to check the fit. I made a size 14 and it fit just right (which is what I love about Grainline patterns!).

I then thought about how best to use up the rest of this fabric I was feeling ho-hum about. I've been (surprisingly) liking the nineties revival of wearing slip dresses over t-shirts, but slip dresses aren't really my thing so I had the idea to make the dress version of the Willow with the sole intent of wearing it over a tee. I figured layering the grey with another colour might help me to come around to it a bit more. And it worked!

I did hack the pattern a bit to make this dress. I cut out the front and back pieces as one (the pattern has you cut them as two), and I lowered the armholes and front and back necklines. I also added big patch pockets because a) I love pockets, and b) I now have somewhere to put my travel card and phone when I'm commuting. Both good reasons, right? I was influenced by the Clyde Dress by Elizabeth Suzann in making this dress. The Clyde has princess seams that the pockets are set in to - I'd love to try something like this next time.

I've harped on about this before, but I really like clothes that are trans-seasonal. I've been wearing this dress on warm days with a short-sleeve tee underneath (the linen is really light and breezy), but I can equally see this being worn with a long-sleeve tee, tights and chunky boots in cooler weather.

So there you go  a dress I didn't exactly set out to make, in a colour I wasn't feeling all that inspired by, has now become a new wardrobe staple!

Denim Tencel Kalle Shirtdress

When I posted about my cropped Kalle Shirt the other month I mentioned that I had plans to make the shirtdress version in the same fabric ... well, here it is!

This pattern is the Closet Case Patterns Kalle Shirtdress with collar, front pocket, standard button band and a box pleat at the back. I used the same dark blue denim Tencel as I did for my shirt, paired with some tortoise shell buttons.

As with the shirt I sewed up a size 14, but I didn't really consider how a loose, boxy cropped shirt would fit quite differently to a dress, so this turned out to be a bit oversized. You can't tell so much from the pictures, but I think I could have gone down a size or two and still maintained a loose fit. At one point I considered taking the whole dress in, but decided it would be too much hassle unpicking the topstitched side seams and sleeve cuffs. Plus I figured with Tencel draping so nicely the loose fit wouldn't be such a bad thing, especially in the heat - I wore this in Brisbane over the hot Christmas break and it was really comfortable and breezy.

I originally lengthened the dress by a couple of inches, but then the back hem just looked way too long. So I cut off all of the bias binding I had painstakingly attached, trimmed the dress back length to sit about an inch below the front, and cut and sewed on new bias binding. It was a bit painful at the time, but I'm really glad I took the time to do this as I much prefer the front and back lengths now (I'm not sure I was so into the dramatic high-low hem feature). 

I took my time with this make, ensuring all of the the topstitching was neat and tidy, and I also added a cute little feature in the form of a 'handmade' woven label from Kylie and the Machine, which I sewed into the collar band. The result is a well-tailored dress that, despite being a bit big, I really love!

White Linen Maya Top

I don’t have a huge amount say about this top, other than it has become a surprise wardrobe hit. I never thought I’d love a simple white linen top as much as I do, but it’s nice to know that the garments we spend time making can still surprise us!

This is the Maya top by Marilla Walker. Marilla released this pattern a few years ago now, but I only recently decided to purchase the pattern after being inspired by so many fabulous versions on Instagram.

Maya features a kimono/cap sleeve, and can be made as a top or dress in different lengths. There are also options for a straight or curved hem, and a plain or button-up front. Basically, it’s a great wardrobe staple pattern ripe for modifications.

I made up a straight size 4 and added some sleeve cuffs, which was as simple as cutting two pieces of fabric the same width as the sleeve, folding them over and attaching them to each cap sleeve edge. The white linen is from the Fabric Store. I was a little worried it would be too crisp, but the linen has already begun to soften after a few washes.

The next time I make this top – and there will be many next times – I'll raise the neckline a little, as it feels a bit wide on me. Otherwise, I love this pattern and this top – a simple, classic wardrobe staple that will get a lot of wear!

Denim Roberts Collection Dungaree Dress

This is my second version of Marilla Walker’s Dungaree Dress pattern, which comes as part of her Roberts collection. This collection includes four options – a jumpsuit, dungarees, a dungaree dress (in two different lengths) and a v-neck woven shirt.

I initially bought this collection purely for view C, the Dungaree Dress pattern, and my first version was made up in a mystery lightweight black fabric. I made it as a trial run as I honestly wasn’t sure it would suit me but I really love it, and every time I wear it to work my colleagues hint that they’d like me to make them one (fat chance, ladies). For this version I thought I’d go traditional dungarees with blue denim (a lightweight version from Spotlight) and include the side and strap snaps, which I omitted the first time around.

I made up a straight size 4, which worked well for my first version, but in this more structured denim I think I maybe should have sized up for the bib section. And made the straps a little longer so that the dress sits a bit further down. It doesn’t feel too tight on, but looking at the photos it's maybe a little figure hugging in the top half. 

This was my first time inserting snaps and it went pretty well, although I’m glad I did a practice run first (turns out hitting those snaps with a hammer is a great way to work off some aggression!). I cut the mid-calf version of the skirt, but ended up making it a little shorter so that it sits a couple of inches below my knees. 

I think my favourite detail about this dress is the bib and pocket lining. I used some quilting cotton fabric that had been sitting in my stash for ages. You can’t see it from the outside, but it’s so fun to know it’s there!

I love the versatility of these dresses – you can wear them in warmer weather with a t-shirt, and layer up with a long-sleeve tee or a cardigan and tights in winter. Plus, pockets. And they look good with sneakers – my two main criteria when it comes to dresses. 

I don’t imagine this is the last time I’ll make this pattern; maybe a winter version in black denim or another summer version in beautiful linen would be nice.

Denim Tencel Cropped Kalle Shirt

I think I’ve found the perfect button-up for spring! As soon as Heather Lou from Closet Case Patterns released the Kalle Shirt pattern I knew I had to give it a go – the cropped, loose, boxy fit was pretty much everything I had been looking for in a button-up. 

But my love for the Kalle started off slightly rocky. Knowing that this pattern might be a bit challenging I decided to sew a first draft using some cheap drapey twill, and it ended up being one of those sewing projects I wanted to throw into a corner and forget about. It was my first time sewing a yoke using the burrito method, and it took me three (yes, three!) goes to get it right. I also struggled when attaching the deep hem facing, and ended up having to unpick the collar after a failed first attempt and cut and sew a new one. Things just weren’t going well. But after leaving it balled up in said corner for a few days I came back to it with a renewed sense of calm and persevered. And I’m really glad I did, because it ended up looking pretty decent, and despite making it in some less-than-amazing fabric, it’s something I’ve been wearing often.

This second attempt went much more smoothly. In case I didn't realise this already, it really hammered home how taking things slow, persevering and practicing different sewing techniques can pay off, and while I know this is not a perfect garment (that collar is a bit wonky, for one) it’s so heartening to see my skills improving. Oh, and I’m now a total convert to attaching yokes using the burrito method! Credit also to Heather’s easy-to-follow instruction booklet and the Kalle sewalong – these resources really do help, and I’m much more inclined to purchase a more difficult pattern from an independent designer when I know there’s a sewalong I can follow.

So, a little about this versatile pattern. The Kalle comes with three different length options – a cropped button-up, a tunic and a shirtdress. There are some other variations too, like a regular collar and a band collar; a pocket; options for an inverted or box pleat; and a button, pop-over or hidden placket. All versions feature a subtly curved yoke, kimono sleeves with arm cuffs and a shaped hem.

This is the cropped version with a regular collar, button placket and box pleat. I made up a size 14 (which is nicely roomy), and I decided to lengthen the front and back pieces by 5cm (and add another button), which I think was the right call for me – it’s comfortably cropped without fear of accidental midriff flashing. I used some dark blue denim Tencel from Spotlight, and the beautiful wooden buttons are from Arrow Mountain. I topstitched using contrasting gold-coloured thread, but I'm not entirely sold on it for some reason. I’m planning on making the shirtdress version of this pattern in the same fabric, so next time I think I’ll stick to blue thread.

Heather has incorporated some lovely details that I think help to elevate the Kalle from a regular button-up. The box pleat, the angled sleeve cuffs and the high-low hem all add up to a well-tailored shirt that is still casual and relaxed. And there are so many options for variations, and different results depending on the fabric you choose. I think this might just become a new tried-and-true pattern for me, and I can’t wait to try out some other options!